I have a little ritual whenever I visit the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show: I visit the Roses and Romance marquee to have a look at the latest Rose of the Year.
I’m secretly in love with roses: I keep trying to give up growing them, as they’re far too romantical-like for my wellies-and-wasabi mental picture of myself as a gardener. But they keep wriggling back in somehow. I’m currently hatching a plan to sneak more in under the guise of being species roses, therefore having hips which are officially Useful.
Anyway: this year, it’s ‘You’re Beautiful’, bred by Graham Fryer: pic above. Very pink, very classic, rather handsome in a Barbara Cartland sort of way: this shade of candy pink isn’t quite my thing but I could see why it won.
However: while I was there I began to notice there is an ominous trend which is creeping into the rosey world. They’ve started breeding grey roses.
Part of the problem is that these colours are so hard to place in the border. One of my neighbours has ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ planted among a little mini rose garden outside her house (she’s elderly, so be nice). She’s bang up to date: but that’s the one rosebush that doesn’t look right. It’s weird, out of synch, the wrong colour for roses.
On the other hand, all this messing with what is good and right has had some positive side-effects. Once you go down the brown route, you reach a fork in the road: the poo option is clearly to be avoided, so obviously the only way is chocolate.
And this is where brown roses start to show why they should exist. Just look at this.
It’s ‘Hot Chocolate’, a sumptuous floribunda that justifies all the misguided breeding efforts in the world if the point of them was to lead to this. Yum, yum.